Making Patient Transfers Safer by using Gait Belt

Lifting someone who is partially mobile is not an easy task. It puts both the patient and you at the risk of injury. If not correctly assisted, the patient is prone to falls, whereas you are prone to injuring or straining your back, which is extremely painful. Hence, you need assistance with a patient transfer in order to keep both you and your loved one’s health intact. This is where lift belts come into the play. They are designed to perform tasks like these.

Proper use of a Gait Belt can reduce the struggles involved with transferring a patient and lowering the risk of back injury. Here is how you can use gait belts to safely transfer patients from bed to wheelchair or to other places.

Gait Belt

What will you need?

For making the transfer safer and easier, you will need appropriate footwear, for both you and the patient, as it will eliminate the risk of slip and fall. Next thing you will need is a proper transfer belt that’s comfortable for the patient. You may also want to call someone for assistance if the patient is heavy or large.

What do you need to do?

  • Make sure that your hands are washed properly to ensure that you do not transfer any infections to the patient
  • Ask the patient to sit on the bed with his/her feet touching the ground. That is, position the patient on the edge of the bed and shift his/her hips forward until his/her feet touch the ground.
  • Next, wrap the belt around the patient’s waist. You need to apply the belt not too tight or not too loose to prevent it from being uncomfortable to the patient or riding up and down the patient’s body. The belt should be tight enough that you can easily grasp it comfortably and firmly.
  • The most important thing to consider is if the patient has a weak side, ensure that his/her strong side is facing the destination like a wheelchair.
  • First lock the brakes on the wheelchair to make sure it doesn’t move when placing the patient. Or you can ask a helper to hold the wheelchair firm while you make the transfer.

Lifting the patient for transfer

Practice good body mechanics. Stand facing the patient and slowly bend your knees. Make sure that your back remains straight. In most cases, placing your arms around the patient’s waist and putting your hands under the belt with the palms facing outward, offers a firm grip when you lift the patient. However, if the patient is heavy or you feel like you won’t be able to perform the lift alone, call for a helper.

Straighten your knees while you hold these padded gait belt. Ask the patient to put both his/her hands on your shoulder if possible. Slowly lift the patient.

Ensure that the patient can see the surface to which he/she is transferring and always move your body in the direction in which the transfer is taking place. When you reach the destination, slowly lower the patient and encourage the patient to reach towards the destination.

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